The problem-based learning (PBL) entry-level Doctor of physical Therapy program places the student in a position of active responsibility for learning and mastering content through research. Rather than listening to a lecture on a given topic (teacher-centered learning), students are presented with a patient case which typically integrates previously learned information with a great deal of new content.
The group must come to consensus about what they need to know in order to manage the patient case. They do this by developing “learning issues” or topics which represent questions about the case.
On an individual basis, students then research the topics by using textbooks, review articles, peer-reviewed research, and electronic data bases. Later in the week, students regroup to discuss their findings and apply them to the patient case at hand. Rather than lecturing, the faculty member facilitates discussion and asks questions to ascertain that students are learning the material to the appropriate breadth and depth required of an entry level physical therapist. Carefully crafted scenarios are the “anchors” around which other content is taught.
The curriculum includes extensive laboratory experiences (Patient/Client Management and Foundational Sciences) as well as special topic seminars (Professional Topics) to support knowledge acquisition.
Recent Student Research
Student Sarah Salazar presented a poster on behalf of her Capstone group at Combined Sections Meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association: "Caring for Aging Nurses: A Pilot Study of Practices in the Hospital”.